LocalSolo provides a free and convenient place where employers can browse a curated list of high-quality local freelancers, view their credentials, and contact them directly without any restrictions.
At whom is your startup aimed?
LocalSolo has two main user groups. On the employer side, provide a solution for any startup, agency, or business, that needs top freelancers in their local area. On the flip side, we also act for high-quality freelance professionals who are looking for more opportunities with great local clients.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Unlike the majority of the larger freelance networks that focus on connecting businesses with low-cost, remote freelancers, we focus on connecting businesses with high quality freelancers in their local area. Also unlike our competitors, we’re a free service and allow our employers to contact and engage our talent directly with no restrictions.
Our competitors typically allow anyone to represent themselves as a freelancer. Conversely, we hand-screen all our freelancers to ensure they are high-quality professionals that are a good fit for our network. High-end freelancers tend to stay away from ‘lowest bidder’ marketplace sites like Elance and ODesk, as they de-value their service. On LocalSolo however, our freelancers negotiate their rates privately with their prospective employers, which brings the fees in line with the quality and experience of the individual.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
We knew that freelancing as a career choice was exploding, but the best freelancers in any given city were still usually found only through word of mouth reference. Simce top freelancers wanted more work options and businesses wanted more access to the best local freelance talent, we realized that there was a great opportunity to connect the two groups together.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Our main concern was giving up a portion of our freelance income for all the time it would take to build and run the startup. We think we’ve stuck a good balance thus far, but would both love to be able to dedicate our full attention to LocalSolo in the future.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
As a long-time digital consultant working for some of the best digital agencies in North America, I’m regularly called on to build startups for clients, whether its for corporations or entrepreneurs. Despite this experience, I have never been on the client-side with my own startup project. It seemed like it was way overdue and it’s been amazing. I’m learning so much that I wouldn’t normally be exposed to as the agency vendor.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
We are completely self-funded at this stage.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We’ve just launched recently, but have already been successful in providing increased exposure for our Freelancers and making life easier for our employers searching for freelance talent. But we’re just starting out, so the best is yet to come.
How long has your business been in making, and who is the team behind the business?
We started working on LocalSolo in March of 2014, and went live in October. Our team is composed of Mark Fromson, a freelance digital project manager and user experience architect, and Stephen Hayes-McCoy, a freelance full stack developer.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Building awareness, which is always a challenge for any new startup.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We would like to become the primary place where businesses of all sizes can conveniently find the best freelance talent in their local area. We aim to provide this service, whether it’s a startup, agency, small business, or large corporation. We also hope that people use the service for other purposes, like finding full time staff, startup co-founders, or freelance business partners.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Working on a startup while freelancing full time for clients may lead to occasional bouts of craziness, but they always pass and it’s all been completely worthwhile.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Focus on providing value to your end-users above all else. No amount of funding or press will help if your product isn’t great.